Owen Labrie: New Hampshire Prep School Convict Could Be Freed on Bail as Court Considers Request for New Trial

A trial court judge could move to release Owen Labrie – the former student at New Hampshire’s elite St. Paul’s School convicted of a series of crimes including misdemeanor sexual assault of a 15-year-old female student – from jail while he awaits a decision on an appeal he’s filed, requesting a new trial, PEOPLE confirms.

Labrie has been incarcerated since mid-March, when a New Hampshire judge determined that the 20-year-old had violated the restrictive terms of his bail on at least seven occasions.

His bail was revoked and Labrie was ordered to begin serving his 1-year sentence inside the Merrimack County House of Corrections.

Labrie appealed that decision to the state Supreme Court, which on Thursday returned the matter to the trial court for its ruling.

In its order Thursday, judges noted Labrie could end up serving his entire 12-month sentence before his appeal can be decided.

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According to the order, the matter was returned to the trial court judge who’ll consider whether Labrie has been imprisoned long enough to understand the importance of respecting the conditions of his bail.

Labrie’s attorney, Jaye Rancourt, tells PEOPLE she is encouraged by Thursday’s decision, but concedes she has no idea when the lower court might issue its ruling.

Labrie was arrested in 2014 soon after graduating from St. Paul’s School in Concord, New Hampshire.

In requesting a new trial for her client, Rancourt argued that Labrie’s former lawyers did a poor job during his trial, taking an “objectively unreasonable” approach to his defense.

Last year, Labrie was accused of raping the younger student as part of an alleged tradition called the “Senior Salute,” in which male seniors competed to have sexual encounters with younger female students.

Labrie was cleared of the most serious charge – felony sexual assault – but was convicted of three misdemeanor sexual assault charges and one felony charge of computer use to entice or lure a minor for sex.

The appeal motion further claims Labrie’s trial lawyers didn’t do enough to challenge the testimony of his 15-year-old victim, claiming they should have requested Facebook messages that would have refuted her statements to the court.

Labrie’s alleged curfew violations surfaced earlier this year, after a Vice reporter spotted him on a train from Cambridge, Massachusetts, to Boston. The reporter wrote a story about their encounter, prompting an investigation by prosecutors.

The reporter claimed that Labrie told her he had been traveling to Cambridge regularly to visit his girlfriend, who is a student at Harvard University.

Labrie received a one-year prison sentence on the misdemeanor sexual assault charges and a suspended sentence on the felony charge. He was also sentenced to five years of probation.

The felony conviction also requires Labrie to register as a sex offender for life.

Labrie pleaded not guilty to all charges at trial and has always maintained his innocence.

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